Catholic high school teachers strike over pay, benefits

Students were dismissed early from at least two local Catholic schools Tuesday as teachers took to the picket lines bright and early.

Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains let students out at 1:30 p.m. and Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale ended classes at noon. The strike also affects John F. Kennedy in Somers, John S. Burke in Goshen and six New York City schools.

The Lay Faculty Association, which represents 450 educators, called the strike after failing to reach an agreement with the New York Archdiocese over salaries, pensions and health benefits.

"They want us to pay even more medical than before," teacher Burt Rodriguez lamented about the archdiocese's refusal to budge Monday night on its final offer. "We're taking less money, but they want us to pay more medical." Rodriguez believes resolving the issue is vital to attracting and retaining younger teachers to the school system.

The union maintains that it will not picket Pope Benedict XVI's events during his New York visit this week. All Catholic school teachers were given Thursday and Friday off due to the visit.

"They find millions of dollars for the pope to come here, meanwhile they can't find money to put in the pension fund," said parent John Fedak. Some parents even said they'd be willing to pay higher tuitions to fund raises.

Catholic teachers' strike imminent as contract talks failTeachers stage sick-out at 3 Catholic schoolsCatholicschool teachers threaten strike for pope's visit

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